A Tragedy in Mexico:
Lies, Twists, Illusions, Deceptions
He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and
whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. —Ecclesiastes 10:8
Life is fresh for us at seventeen, and it was for him as well. What we know of his story is that he was about seventeen and had been drinking with some friends. Like many people his age, he was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). He probably thought he would never get caught. When we are seventeen, life is full, and we often think of ourselves as invincible. Nothing can hurt us. That is the danger.
He was also an illegal with both parents who were illegal immigrants themselves. For some unexplained reason, his arrest led to his deportation, but not his parents. Maybe he was able to protect them. Maybe he lied to the authorities. Maybe something else intervened. We simply do not know.
What we do know is that he would eventually live in Morelos with relatives. There he would stay until his mother and dad could come for him. Morelos is a wonderful place with a snow-covered volcano in the distance, an abundance of tropical plants and fresh water lakes. The weather in Morelos comes as close to perfection as the weather can in any place.
He was about seventeen when his mother kissed him good-bye. “Do not talk about yourself, and do not speak any English,” she warned. He listened to his mother probably as most seventeen-year olds listen to their mothers. He was respectful to an overly cautious mother.
Unfortunately, when he arrived in Morelos, he soon forgot his mother’s words. The people were friendly, and he had new friends, and there were many beautiful señoritas. Maybe he wanted to impress the girls, but whatever his reason, he spoke English, spoke English far too much, and far too fluently. After all, he was seventeen.
How it happened, we don’t know, but the young, seventeen-year old boy attracted the attention of the bad element in Mexico. Evil men noticed him. Evil men kidnapped him and demanded a $200,000.00 ransom. When his father was contacted by phone, a mixture of fear, anger, and bewilderment came over the father’s face and into his words.
A cold voice on the other end of the telephone demanded $200,000.00. Just to make the father aware of how serious the ransom demand actually was, the evil voice told the father what cars he drove, and the license plate numbers, and where the family lived and worked. The evil voice even knew the bank account code. The evil voice may have even known what the father was wearing that very moment. The father and his family had been under strict surveillance, “You have cars you can sell. Sell them. You have a house you can sell. Sell it. You have money in the bank, send it. You have relatives with money, ask them. This will be our last conversation.”
Whether or not the family was able to amass the entire $200,000.00 ransom is not known. A large amount of money was indeed sent to an account in Mexico. The ransom was paid, and in exchange, a dead body was given to a grieving father and mother. They had paid the ransom, but the evil men killed their son anyway. And he was seventeen with the promise of a whole life ahead of him. As for his parents, their life will never be a life again. As for him, we can only say that he was seventeen, he was seventeen, he was seventeen.
W“henever we come into direct contact with evil in its most raw state, we are left dazed and sickened by the experience. In the case of the young man who was seventeen, “There was no need to have killed him, but they killed him anyway.” “Why do good people suffer if there is a God?” “There was no rhyme or reason in what happened.”
We’ve heard others (and maybe ourselves as well) utter such statements of disbelief. We have no answer as to what happened or why. Once we recover from the shock of having seen evil on parade, we are convinced that evil is not from this world, and that evil ultimately is demonic with a violent and destructive core that escapes all attempts at rational analysis. Evil cannot be explained the way good can.
Evil is much more than the opposite of good; in the ultimate sense, evil is a deception causing those who embrace it to embark on a destructive course that literally confounds any rational explanation. Perhaps, the closest we come to understanding evil may be found in the way Christ spoke of evil:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning . . . . When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. — John 8:44
Whenever any of us lie, usually there is some sense of self-interest. We may want to protect ourselves from embarrassment, or to shelter someone we love. When examined in its most unadulterated form, however, evil promotes lie after lie because deception is the basic core of evil. Evil not only lies, but is itself a lie.
Consider the temptation of Eve in the garden. The serpent, of course, misled her and promised that once she had eaten, she would know good and evil. She would be as a god— “Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Only a small portion of what the serpent had promised was true. Her eyes were opened, her innocence taken from her. She came to know evil and good, but only in the sense that she had lost her innocence. The serpent lied. Eve did not become like God. She became more like Satan.
As for a knowledge of evil and good, none of us, from Eve on, can ever understand either good or evil in an absolute sense. Such knowledge is beyond our reach. The love of Christ, for instance, escapes our human understanding. We know that Christ died for us, but why Christ would choose to die for any of us remains a mystery we cannot fathom. We know that God is love, and that love is his nature, and that is all we know. We know that, but we do not understand that.
The same is true with evil. We know evil when we see it, and when we do something that is evil, but evil we never understand. Like love, evil comes to us from a spiritual dimension, a dimension far above us.
For a moment, though, let’s look at evil from the perspective of a person who has done something wrong. He may steal money, thinking that the money will somehow help him. Yet, just as the lie the man has lived, the evil he has followed is also a lie. Eventually, when evil has run its course, the money he stole will end up hurting the thief. A man may think that stealing another man’s wife will make his own life perfect. What he does not understand is that his adultery will not bring him the joy he anticipates. That is not how evil works. Evil tempts, but the end result is never what evil initially promised.
There is no lasting joy in stolen money. Greed is never quenched. The more a man steals, the more he needs to steal. There is no end. Adultery likewise does not bring happiness. Evil never satisfies; even in adultery, the pleasure evil promised will become more like the embrace of a cockroach. After all, if she was unfaithful to him, what makes you think she will stay with you?
There is no happiness in evil ever. Adam and Eve did not become like God when they ate the fruit. The fruit may have been delicious, but the flavor brought with it a bitter aftertaste. What I am trying to say is that evil seduces us, but we are never given what evil promised.
Those who murdered the seventeen-year old boy craved money they had not earned. Nothing is more evanescent than money. Money seems to evaporate before our eyes, especially money that does not belong to us. Even when the money is part of an inheritance, family members often fight one another over what was given to them as if they had some moral right to the money. The indulgent parent who constantly gives money to a child will have to give money to that same child as long as the parent lives. We all have seen a fifty-year old man whose mother still dotes on him and still provides him with money. She thought she could buy his love. She only bought scorn. Evil is a lie. Evil brings death and shame and ruin.
Yet evil comes to us in the guise of friendship. Seemingly, the serpent in the garden befriended Eve. A scheming politician must make his constituents believe that he is on their side and has their best interest at heart. Judas must scorn Christ, sealing his deception with words and a kiss: “Hail, Master.” Like the serpent, Judas came to the Christ in a garden. The opening chapter of Proverbs depicts a treacherous invitation,
Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause . . . . 13We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil. — 1:11, 13
Murder, and greed go together. And when the murder is committed by a group, the effort will be intensified with each member of the group encouraged toward more evil by what he sees others in the group doing. Such is the nature of gangs. Evil feeds off evil, and eventually evil feeds off the perpetrators of evil. Evil is a lie. Evil is a destructive lie—
For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 17Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. 18And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. 19So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof. —1:16-19
Gang members may call themselves homies, but there is no home in a gang. There is no good in murder. There is no profit in stolen money. There is no happiness in adultery. Evil destroys the person who commits evil as much as the person against whom evil is committed. Evil is a deadly poison.